More Morse? Endeavour – Series One

Here in India, and, by extension, perhaps in many other regions of the world, we’re not exposed to a decent variety of TV shows from the UK, as opposed to from the US – Australia and Canada are next in frequency of being featured. Europe, in general, is denied a fair representation and the case is worse with the remaining continents. There are broad regional preferences, of course. Each nation will tend to favour itself and immediate neighbours besides the US/Australia/Canada. Thus, Malaysia had a greater selection from China, Japan and Korea not to mention others. Truth to tell, much more regional variety than is to be found in India.

In my TV viewing years, I recall some comedies such as Fawlty Towers from the UK but not much else and I’m pretty certain there has not been an increase in the years since I forsook TV. Frankly, for Indians, though we have a large number of people who claim to be ‘native’ speakers, “my good self” included, it is harder to comprehend the ‘Queen’s’ English than it is to make head or tail of a US accent. Subtitles are as much in order as would be the case for a Japanese TV show in India. And yet Endeavour will not need to strive to engross. It’s that good.

For the anglophile, out of the closet or not, Endeavour will be a delicacy. It is, indeed, a gourmet treat with its tendency to be laced liberally with literary and other rich cultural references. While the visuals enchant the eye and frequently bring classical painters to mind, besides Morse’s own love for opera, the music of such as Wagner not only graces the audio track but forms an integral part of some plots.

While I definitely hope to make my readers watch it and get hooked, it’s also my pleasure to provide die-hard fans, like myself, resources to fan the fandom flame.

With each post about each series, the endeavour will be to offer the best fan sites and, perhaps, glimpses into their individual focuses. Today, it’s a list of things about Endeavour that are

Good to Know

  1. It’s always Thursday on Endeavour. Actor Roger Allam, Inspector Thursday, is one of the main characters in the Endeavour series. Initially, he’s the only one who appears to appreciate Morse’s talents – a quick reminder that Morse’s first name is Endeavour.  For more such fascinating detail, visit Allam’s Inspector Morse Fact File.

Thursday has a wife, daughter and son and his family life forms a good deal of the regular drama on most episodes.

More importantly, the actor has a wonderful page of episode summaries on his site.

2. The author of the Morse novels almost always appears in the shows, Hitchcock style.

Colin Dexter makes his appearance at 42 minutes and 40 seconds in the dining hall.

Endeavour S01 E01 ‘Girl’: Review, Music, Art, Literary References, Locations etc.

3. The daughter of the actor who plays Morse in the original series is a staple on Endeavour.

Played by John Thaw’s daughter Abigail, the character’s name of ‘D. Frazil’ is actually a bit of a crossword clue of the type Morse was very fond of. Frazil is a type of ice, so “de-ice” is to Thaw.

Endeavour’s continued tip of the hat to Morse is a fitting tribute to its’ predecessor

Those were some of the regular features. Now for the fun part!

Series 1 – Trailers

Girl: Episode 1. Directed by Edward Bazalgette and written by Russell Lewis

While everyone in Oxford appears to be dolling up for a night out, Endeavour is preparing to settle in with his copy of Moriarty’s Police Law. This book is a real thing—“An Arrangement of Law and Regulations for the Use of Police Officers”—that a young officer would have studied to pass his exam for promotion. That it’s called Moriarty’s is just a happy coincidence considering that Endeavour Morse will do the full Sherlock about 23 minutes into the episode…

But first, a corpse:

Margaret Bell, age 20, is found dead of an apparent heart attack. Seeing Margaret fit and fine just a few moments earlier, we have no reason to believe a heart attack was her actual cause of death, and her G.P. confirms as much shortly after. She did have a weak heart, but if she’d been taking her medication she shouldn’t have suffered a heart attack. The doctor has questions, and now so does Morse.

criminalelement.com
Fugue: Episode 2.  Directed by Tom Vaughan and written by Russell Lewis

… of course it is focused on music. Morse and music go together better than bacon and eggs. The episode opens with choral singers, specifically Morse, who has been spotted by the local newspaper as he leaves a concert he performed in.

As ever, we settle back into the pattern of seeing all of the puzzle pieces in the opening interspersed with the credits. Pieces, players, games. This plot rotates completely around Morse but the mystery beneath it all is fascinating without that. A serial killer is working his way through Oxford using the deaths in operas as a means of killing his victims. The killer leaves clues for Morse, taunting him, and eventually stabbing him as he leads Morse a merry chase. Meanwhile there is a traitor in the camp and every one we see seems to be tied back to a musical theme.

Endeavour S01 E02 ‘Fugue’: Review, Music, Art, Literary References, Locations etc. pampers you with spoilers – no true fan is immune to such blandishments.

With a name like Fugue, how can reviews not rave about the music?

Before we get to Barrington Pheloung’s spine tingling theme tune at the end, this week’s episode served up an impressive body count, more than a liberal sprinkling of Oxford’s dreaming spires and another intricate and compelling storyline. As if to punctuate the point further even the climax is fittingly set among these very spires. The plot is driven by a medley of soprano duets, arias and sonatas which proves a mesmerising cocktail.

Endeavour’s skills are tested to the limit

archiveofourown.org has a tongue-in-cheek go at the episode. Quite entertaining even if you’re yet to watch the story.

Locales, we have mentioned in a previous post, are one of the many charms of Endeavour – you seriously want to buy a ticket to the UK after catching an Endeavour or two. As you see below, someone has beaten me to it!

I’ve compiled the various answers I received here for anyone else who might be interested in doing their own mini-Endeavour locations tour:

1) Magdalen College, bridge over to Addison’s Walk

2) Radcliffe Square or St Mary’s Passage by the Radcliffe Camera (possibly the same place!)

3) Queen’s Lane, by the back gate of New College

4) Possibly the side of Jesus College, opposite one of the exits to the Covered Market

5) Roof of Trinity College chapel

6) Broad Street or Turn off High St down King Edward St, this is between Christchurch & Oriel College (again, possibly the same place)

7) Merton College

8) Merton St, outside Merton College or Logic Street

shappeybunny.tumblr.com
Rocket: Episode 3. Directed by Craig Viveiros and written by Russell Lewis

This might be my personal favourite of the series.

the Queen is visiting a local missile factory, to aid relations with the Arabs, who are thought to want to place an order for 36 weapons. It’s a suitably grand occasion and the bunting’s out for HRH. The rest of the staff are assigned to oversee her safety, but Morse is left on general duties once more. This week that means making sure the crowds stay in order as all the ‘wooden’ police are busy at the factory. Jakes’ condescending manner is heightened again, and the way he talks down to Morse really makes it seem like Russell Lewis is setting him up for one hell of a fall in the final story of this series.

A few hours after the Queen has left, just as Bright is congratulating himself on a successful operation, Morse receives notification that a body’s been found.

… Craig Viveiros’ beautiful direction makes everything feel like it was shot on location; it’s gorgeous.

kroagnon.blogspot.in
Home: Episode 4 – Directed by Colm McCarthy and written by Russell Lewis

The series winds up with an episode that delivers quick punches. Thursday is up against powerful old foes. His daughter, June, and we know that Endeavour suffers from unrequited love for her, is giving the Inspector more heartburn than could any of the famously unappetising sandwiches his wife makes him.  We get a peek at Morse’s family.

Also,

In this episode the viewer discovers why Morse has a limp in later life. A storyline from the young Endeavour Morse to coincide with the real-life injury sustained by John Thaw and thus a physical element that Thaw brought to the character of Inspector Morse.

Trivia
MUSIC

At the very start of the episode we hear Faure’s Requiem: VII In Paradisum. This piece is of course very significant in the world of Morse as the same piece of music was playing when Morse collapsed to the ground with a heart attack in the episode, ‘The Remorseful Day’.

Endeavour: Connections to Morse and Lewis

The site is rich in detail, has photos and plenty of spicy trivia.

And with that we bid the series farewell, moving on, soon, to the second series of Endeavour while I eagerly await news of the upcoming sixth series.

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Worthy Endeavour – Morse Younger and More

I never thought I’d live to see the day when a film would make me want to read a book. And, I’m amazed that I’ve never heard of Colin Dexter. To go by the films and TV shows, the books should do me nicely.

I’ve always loved crime as a genre. Specifically detective driven stories. Film, TV show or novel, I’ve dipped into these mysteries with fervour. Somehow, along the way, I ended up almost exclusively transfixed by Keiji/Tantei type J doramas or films.

The_Detective_Is_in_the_Bar_poster
“The Detective Is in the Bar poster” – Fair use via Wikipedia

And that seems to have held good as far as reading goes too – save that translations are rarely as fast output as subtitles. I have to thank Youtube for introducing me to snippets of this and that, from here and there, and breaking the spell. To some extent only, to be fair. Excellence, par excellence, belongs to the Japanese and none else.

So it was idle surfing on Youtube that led me to the Endeavour series. And to have, thus, found that Colin Dexter has written a series of detective novels featuring an Inspector Morse. While there exist films and TV shows based on the Inspector, more recently someone took it into their head to create a series about Morse before inspectordom – Endeavour.

The Morse series, film or TV show, are easy to find and you will quickly discover that Inspector Morse scrupulously avoids giving us his first name. Though the Morse shows are quite engaging, they are not really so well made. 

The Endeavour series, on the other hand, the fifth season, in particular, are an aesthetic pleasure and pure delight so far as story and acting go too.

Overriding all the other plus points in its favour, Endeavour boasts Shaun Evans.

Shaun Evans on the Pressures of Playing a Beloved Character like Morse

The actor is brilliant – mobile features and an endearing eccentricity of manner combine to charm. Think of him as a classy Hugh Grant if you must or whatever else can replace that Divine Disaster.

We watch him hone his deductive powers as the case devolves into a complex murder inquiry led by Morse’s new mentor, Inspector Thursday (Roger Allam, “The Queen”). A Jaguar owner and ale drinker, Thursday allows Endeavor to pursue his own obscure clues, which include first-edition poetry books and hidden crossword puzzles. Suspects abound — the girl’s boyfriends, an Oxford Don, a Jaguar salesman, various women and certain higher-ups.

Shaun Evans (“The Take,” “The Virgin Queen”) is outstanding in the title role. His Endeavour is edgy, with an incisive mind and a manner so neurotically insecure that he is lucky to be able to get to work on time.

Culture Vulture
Endeavour: Behind the Scenes | Shaun Evans as DS Endeavour Morse | ITV

… what separates Endeavour from other crime series. “It has this class about it,” he says. “The cinematography is exceptional…”

Cracking the Morse code

And that is it, in a nutshell – a visual delight, the show endeavours to do its best in all aspects.

Set in Oxford, the series exposes the viewer to visual experiences guaranteed to make you want to visit the locales and quaff something at one of the featured pubs or something of the sort.

Oxford_Skyline_Panorama_from_St_Mary's_Church_-_Oct_2006
DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0. Oxford skyline facing south towards Christ Church Cathedral and Tom Tower of Christ Church,  from The Church of St Mary the Virgin.

In the first Endeavour, aired in early 2012 , a young girl is murdered. Her boyfriend has, perhaps, committed suicide.  One soon discovers that there is rarely just the one corpse in the Morse code.

The police uncover secret orgies for the mostly high and mighty. The girls, on the other hand, are underage. Detective Inspector Thursday and young Endeavour go about it in their signature ways and the tale has a very interesting twist to it.

There are scenes which stand out in memory, reminding one of classical paintings. Rembrandt and Rubens influences…

Endeavour DVD Trailer – 2012
Directed by Colm McCarthy, and written by Russell Lewis

While the film is a little raw around the edges in terms of making, this is not something most viewers would notice and it has its share of scenes which can be framed and hung up on a wall as art.

Young Morse is not as alcoholic as his older self on the Morse shows. However, I’ve decided that British detectives and policemen knock back a decent amount on TV shows. And Endeavour tries to live up to the task. You might even design a drinking game based on glugging down one of each drink used on the show.

So far, Season Five is the acme of the series and I look forward eagerly to the sixth season.

You might want to prime yourself by viewing some Inspector Morse shows first but Endeavour is quite standalone and any episode is worth its weight in gold as an entertainingly educative experience – proof that quality is never a bore. Go catch some Endeavour today! Find out where to watch.

Endeavour_morse
“Endeavour morse” – Fair use via Wikipedia